How to Choose the Right Marketplace for Your Products

Once you decide that you want to sell online, the first question that you have to answer is where. There are a lot of options. You can either go for one or more of the innumerable sales channels that make up the online retail horizon, or fly solo and open up your own online store. Also, if you do go for the sales channels option, which ones do you subscribe to? And how many of them? These are tough decisions, and we are here to help you with them.

Let’s understand first what an online marketplace offers you. An online marketplace is your virtual store – your customers will be able to browse through your products here and make purchases. What online sales channels do is they assist you in this process in the following ways –

  1. They let you create product catalogs and list them on their virtual real estate
  2. They provide you with a customer base
  3. They act as middlemen during the transaction
  4. They assist you with the logistics part of the process

In return, they take a certain percentage commission from each sale. You also have to adhere to their rules and policies, and they have the power to penalise you if you don’t. Essentially, the store might be yours, but it’s their mall. As opposed to this, having your own online store gives you back your sovereignty in the virtual world. Let us look at the pros and cons a little more deeply.

How to Choose Where to Sell Online

  • Analyze Your Product

If you are just a retailer, it does not make much sense for you to open your own online store, especially in popular product categories like electronics and apparel. These are high volume markets, with a massive demand and a supply that just barely matches it. As opposed to that, if you are a manufacturer too, or are selling a niche product, you can really develop your brand from ground up in the online world. Subscribe to a marketplace which is popular for selling products in your category.

  • Logistics Support

Think about logistics before subscribing to marketplaces. If a particular sales channel is inept in providing logistical assistance around the area where your warehouses are situated, you will be in a tight spot. If you plan to start your own marketplace, study logistics providers carefully. We have already written extensively about logistics providers here and here.

  • Marketplace Popularity

Sales channels like Amazon and Flipkart are pretty much synonymous to online retail in today’s market. The top few sales channels generally are the consumers’ first choice when it comes to shopping online. Subscribing with one or more of them means you get access to that big a customer base. Having your own online store means starting from scratch.

  • Competition

The other side of the coin is the immense competition that one finds on these huge online sales channels. There are multiple sellers jostling together for the same product, differentiated only by little things like product descriptions, photographs and seller ratings. It sure is a tough market.

  • Brand Image

Subscribing to an online sales channel doesn’t give you much room in terms of growth. Here, people don’t buy products from ‘seller123’; they buy products from Flipkart or Amazon. You are reduced to a nameless provisioner. This is bad because this way, you cannot grow your brand image. On the other hand, on a dedicated store, you can carefully tailor your brand image by harnessing the power of social media. Amazon recently started allowing sellers to use their dedicated website to funnel transactions through their Amazon accounts. This way, you get all the benefits of subscribing to an online store while preserving your brand image.

  • Subscription Cost

Different sales channels have different subscription costs and commission plans. In return, they also offer different essential and optional services. It is better to shortlist a few channels and then carefully go through their specific plans to choose the ones that you want to go for.

For any more information about sales channels and online retail in general, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions experts, and we are always happy to help!

Tier 2, 3 Cities as Potential Markets for Online Retail

India’s online retail market can be subdivided into two parts in terms of the geography – the so called tier 1 cities, which include the metropolises and the highly developed industrial and cultural hubs and the tier 2 and 3 cities which include the so called developing regions around the country.

The disparity between these two parts is pretty blatant – tier 1 cities are prioritized in terms of most amenities, they are valued more within a state since they contribute more to the economy and thus they also tend to be more glamorous. In fact, until recently it was thought that the online retail business wouldn’t have much support outside the tier 1 cities. Turns out this is a gross misconception. Although it is true that the online retail business has a huge market in tier 1 cities, the contribution of tier 2 and 3 cities can scarcely be ignored.

Why Should You Focus on Tier 2, 3 Cities for Online Retail?

  • United They Stand

As of the 2011 census, there are 8 tier 1 cities in India – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. As compared to these, there are as many as 3,133 tier 2 and 3 cities and more than 1,233 rural hubs. While one third of India’s 1.2 billion population lives in tier 1 through 4 cities, only 8% of these reside in tier 1 cities. This means that, an online seller cannot ignore the combined volume of the more than 4,500 cities and hubs that make up the rest of India.

  • Mobile Power

Mobile technology is revolutionizing the tier 2 and 3 markets, according to this Forrester report. Half the shoppers in tier 3 cities are already on mobile, as compared to the one third from tier 1 cities. Cheaper smartphone technology and the growing range of connectivity in Indian towns seem to be the root cause of these figures, and an online retailer must not ignore them. In fact, the m-commerce market in India is slated to reach $19 billion by 2019.

  • Women are the Dominant Force

The same Forrester report further asserts that women are the driving force in tier 2 and 3 online retail markets. In fact, they spend more than twice as much money online as men from the same geographical markets do. This is an important piece of information for online retailers to consider while building a sales and marketing strategy.

  • Indian Online Retail Market Geography

According to this Accel Report, the top three markets for online retail in India are –

  1. Delhi-NCR
  2. Karnataka
  3. Maharashtra

Similarly, the markets with very little e-commerce presence are –

  1. Bihar
  2. Uttarakhand
  3. Chhattisgarh
  • New Buyers

In 2011, the cities of Pune and Ahmedabad were upgraded to receive the tier 1 status. As more and more cities develop, their markets will grow. In fact, many tier 2 and 3 cities are growing at an unprecedented rate. It has been estimated that 70% people from tier 1 and 2 cities who do not currently make online purchases will do so in the next 12 months. As services like internet become more and more available to newer areas around India, tier 2 and 3 markets – unsaturated by over competition and having room to breathe, are the real markets to watch out for.

To know more about tier 2 and 3 markets, or in case of queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solution experts and we are always happy to help!

Hottest Product Categories in Indian Online Retail

Online retail profits have been leapfrogging for the past few years in India. Especially with the advent of cheap smartphone technology and the enthusiasm online retail platforms have provided in terms of m-commerce, online sales have truly skyrocketed. The first question every prospective online retailer has in mind is – ‘What do I sell?’ There are differing answers to this question, depending upon various perspectives.

One way is to figure out the most popular product to sell and enter the extremely competitive market. Since a large market base is divided by many suppliers, you are bound to get a small share, but the opportunity for growth is slow. The other way is to create a market base using a niche product. This article makes a good case for this strategy. Also check out Chris Anderson’s Long Tail Phenomenon, which describes this course of action, is detail.

The point is, whichever way you go, you do need to know about the current demand trends in the market. These trends can directly affect you, or they can affect you through a secondary market basis. But it is important to know. Therefore we are providing information about the Indian online retail market in this post, and its current demand trends and hottest product categories. Let’s take a look.

Demand Trends in the Indian Online Retail Market in 2015

Market Description

The total turnover of the e-commerce market in India is supposed to hit $16 billion in 2016. Of this, nearly 31% belongs to online retail and 61% belongs to the travel industry while the rest can be chalked up to wholesale and other services. According to the data gathered by Accel India, the number of internet users in India will grow to more than 400 million by 2016. Of these, more than 60% generally frequent e-commerce websites. The conversion rate from visitors to buyers is expected to jump to 2.9% from 2.7% in 2013. This means that the gross turnover due to online retail will exceed $8.5 billion in 2016.

Hot Product Categories

According to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, or IAMAI, mobile phones and their accessories are the highest selling items on online retail websites like Flipkart and Snapdeal. The online retail industry, growing at the rate of more than 33% currently, favours various product categories in the following order –

  1. Mobile phones and accessories: Mobile phones and accessories hold a 41% market share with sales worth around Rs. 9,936 crore.
  2. Apparel, footwear, etc.: Personal items like apparel, footwear and other accessories come second in the race for the most popular online retail category. They cover around 20% of the market with sales upwards of Rs. 4,699 crore.
  3. Consumer Durables: Consumer durables like kitchen appliances and other accessories account for 14% of the online retail market. The sales in this category have been worth Rs. 3,404 crore.
  4. Laptops/notebooks/other electronic items: Laptops and other electronic items consist of 10% of the market with sales up to Rs. 2,780 crore
  5. Home furnishings: Home furnishings show sales of Rs. 1,059 crore
  6. Books: Books have garnered sales of Rs. 648 crore.

These are some of the sales figures for the year 2014-15. We hope these will help you in your strategy to sell on online platforms.

For any help or queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions experts and we are always happy to help!

Want to sell overseas? Here’s 5 online marketplaces to explore!

India has one of the fastest growing e-commerce industries in the world, in terms of both supply and demand. With the total turnover of the Indian e-commerce market slated to cross $16 billion in 2015, its growth can only be described as meteoric. But it is no wonder that an entrepreneur would look at the overseas market for sales. Overseas markets offer some obvious benefits over the Indian e-commerce market. Firstly, the rate of exchange makes a huge difference when it comes to profit markups. Secondly, a product may find itself in a refreshingly unique position in an overseas market as compared to the oversaturation it might face in the domestic one.

The Indian e-commerce market is starting to realize the importance of this foreign investment. Of course, a lot of strategizing is required before making the decision to enter a foreign market. Doing so prematurely may be disastrous for your business. The important factors to consider before entering an overseas market are the trade routes, rates of exchange, recognizing potential markets, shipping costs, customs and taxes, etc. Once you have done these calculations and zeroed in on a potentially lucrative market, you can look for ways to enter it. There are many ways to enter the overseas markets. Having your own website is probably the easiest, although you would have to put in a lot of effort in branding and marketing it for a foreign customer base.

There are a few Indian online marketplaces that let you sell your products overseas. We have compiled a list of the top 5 such marketplaces.

Marketplaces that let You Sell Overseas

  1. Amazon

Amazon.in recently started allowing its third party sellers to sell their products overseas. Amazon is especially tapping the market for ethnic apparel, handcrafted items, shoes, yoga books, etc. for its US and UK customers. As of May 2015, when the service began, over 200 sellers had already started using it to sell their products on the global market. Amazon is especially looking at the 25 million Indians who live outside India as a viable target market.

  1. eBay

eBay India also provides the service of letting its third party sellers sell their products overseas In fact in 2012, eBay rallied so that its online sellers with international sales would get an ‘exporter’ status, thus giving them various tax and customs exemptions. Selling internationally with eBay is quite easy, and the company provides a range of tools and tips for sellers wanting to do so.

  1.  Alibaba

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba also facilitates Indian vendors to sell their wares on the global market. In fact, the number of Indian listings on Alibaba is second only to China. For its Indian venture, Alibaba has partnered with ICICI bank and the Indian logistics provider Mypacco.com.

  1. Etsy

The go to site for everything handmade also lists Indian sellers. Although this is just a one way street – Etsy does not deliver in India. Indian handcrafted products, though, are a hit on the platform, as witnessed by sellers like Everything Indian and Anek. Etsy does not provide shipping and logistics services for its Indian sellers, so these responsibilities have to be borne by the vendors themselves.

  1. Craftsvilla

Craftsvilla is another Indian company that lets you list your products on the global market. Craftsvilla has already garnered a reputation in India and abroad for its tasteful and authentic handcrafted products. To be an internationally listed seller on Craftsvilla, you need to complete the VillaPay seller registration on their website.

These are some of the top online platforms that let Indian vendors sell their products on the global market. To know more about individual procedures or for any other queries, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading e-commerce solutions providers and we are always happy to help!

How to choose the right domain for your online store

It can be a daunting process to set up a new website, especially if that website is crucial for your business. If you are an online retailer looking to branch out and host your own online store, this article is for you. Designing a website is just a fraction of this process. Various intrinsic systems that actually run the website have to be coded and set up. But before one goes into the business of actually making the website, one has to go through a few steps – your website’s domain has to be registered and a web host has to be appointed. But what is domain name registration?

Every website that you visit on the internet is registered to a domain. It’s like finding somebody’s phone number in a phone book. You look for John Smith in the book and you find the number. Similarly, when you type www.browntape.com on your internet browser, the computer searches through an online directory of domain names and addresses to locate the address for the Browntape website. These addresses are numerical, and usually go something like 179.121.134.0. This number is the address of your website, and you need to register that address with a registry so that other computers can find it by searching for your domain name.

For international domain suffixes like .com, .org, .info, etc. the official registry is the ICANN, or Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers. For an Indian domain name like .co.in, the authority is called INRegistry. There are many licensed domain name registrars that register your website domain in these authorities. They charge you according to the fees required to register your domain type plus a certain amount for the services that they offer. Many domain registrars also provide extra services that include 24×7 assistance and troubleshooting, customer service, etc.

Things You Must Know Before Registering Your Domain

  • Do a Thorough Background Check

The domain registration business is full of sharks and crooks that are out to get your money. Scams are pretty common here, especially since you rarely physically visit the domain registrar’s office. Firstly, you must check whether the registrar is truly affiliated with ICANN and INRegistry. Thoroughly check their reviews and if possible talk to a few people who have subscribed to their services.  Reading the fine print here is extremely important, because many outfits are designed to scam you on the basis of your signature on the dotted line.

  • Check for Customer Support

Once your site is live, tech support is going to be your basic necessity. You don’t want to be in a situation where your website is down due to DNS errors, errors in transferring the domain or transferring administrative privileges and you don’t have anyone on hand to fix your problems. This delay would cost you valuable time and money. Many registrars offer you basic plans with nominal tech support and ask you to upgrade for a more hands-on support experience. You shouldn’t mind spending a few bucks extra at the outset rather than to suffer heavy losses in the future.

  • SSL Certification

For an online retailer, SSL certification is of paramount importance. SSL certificates are tiny data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s files. When installed on a web server, they create a digital padlock and provide a safe connection between the server and the browser. Typically, SSL certificates are required for monetary transactions over the internet, among other secure data transfer. As somebody who is in charge of overseeing hundreds of online transactions, you must make sure that your domain registrar also provides you with SSL certification.

  • Web Hosting

Although there are many organizations that offer specialized web hosting services, it makes more sense to avail them from your domain registrar itself. This way you only have to deal with one tech support team instead of two and it might also be cheaper for you in the long run.

  • Pricing

Finally, the pricing. One big misunderstanding about web hosting is that the prices depend upon the domain name. That is not true. You don’t have to pay more for a longer domain name, for instance, or a better one. What the pricing depends upon is the suffix that you want to register to. International suffixes like .com would cost a bit more, as compared to something like .co.in. Here is a list of a few reputed domain registrars and their pricing policies.

If you need any more info about domain name registration for your online store, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

5 Tips to Stand Out While Selling on Online Marketplaces

An online marketplace is a tough place to survive in. The amount of competition is enormous and the demand is relentless and both these things mean that you always have to be on your toes while operating your online store. The size on the Indian online marketplace is rising at a meteoric pace. In fact, the Indian online retail industry was worth $13.5 billion in 2014, and is all set to cross the $16 billion mark in 2016. With a market volume like this, it is extremely difficult to make one’s mark. How can one differentiate oneself from the competition while selling virtually similar products off the same online sales platform?

It becomes slightly easier for sellers with a niche product to offer and a dedicated website to sell it from. But what about somebody who is selling through a large online sales platform? A typical customer would rarely look into a seller’s background in detail other than checking their rating to see if they provide a decent service.

So what can be done in a high-pressure low wiggle room situation like this to stand apart from the crowd? Let’s find out!

How to Stand Out on an Online Sale Channel

  1. Hit the Right Keywords

Most sales begin with a keyword search string. Something like ‘Poncho raincoat’ or ‘Blue ink pen’. Something that the customer feels is the obvious way to search a product. Your job is to make sure that these expected keywords related to your product are included in its description so that your product pops up every time the keywords are searched. This is essential because the volume of products and sellers is so high on a typical online marketplace that it is first important to be in the customer’s range of vision. Remember, the first step to stand out is to be seen.

  1. Good Photography

Let’s perform an experiment. Log on to an online sales channel like Amazon or Flipkart and just search something. Anything. Now, just browse through the list of results. What do you notice first? The image, right? That small thumbnail of an image is a make or break for online sales.

We wrote an article previously about how to photograph your images for online marketplaces. The image of your product is the closest the customer is ever going to get to actually experiencing it before buying it. In fact, most online marketplaces require you to take high-resolution pictures from multiple angles for your customers’ benefit. You can actually impress your customer by investing in some great photography for your product.

  1. Be Creative with Product Descriptions

Again, the important thing to understand is that the customer cannot actually hold the product. It is up to you to provide the most comprehensive description for them. This is also your chance to impress them with some creativity. Fiddle with the design of your product description so that it forms an interesting narrative. Engage your customers and make them stay on the page longer.

  1. Engage in Social Media

There is a line that divides the space between the real world and social media. People go to a restaurant and order food, once the food is served, the click an image and put it up on instagram. How can you prompt your customers to interact with your brand on social media? Social media highlights experiences (and cats) – the ambience at a restaurant, the rainy day from the window, and receiving a product you ordered in the mail. Nudge your customers to interact with your brand on Twitter and Instagram. Impress them with the packaging and ask them to pin an image of it up on Pinterest. There is so many ways with which you can stand out using social media. Just be creative!

  1. Offer a Great Returns Policy

Finally, something that every customer wants – a guaranteed returns policy. This will surely make you stand out amongst the crowd of competitors as somebody who truly cares about your customers’ interests. Here’s an article we previously wrote about the importance of a good returns policy. Do check it out.

This is what we have on how to stand out among competitors on an online sales website. To know more, get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!

5 Ways to Improve Abandoned Cart Emails

Imagine a typical shopping experience. A customer is on your website, browsing your products. Maybe they like an item or two. Maybe they mindlessly add those items to their shopping cart. And then, maybe they lose interest, or receive an important email or remember that they had to feed their cat or simply change their mind. In essence, they abandon their shopping cart.

If you’re wondering how plausible this scenario is, take a look at the numbers. Studies show that around 67% shopping carts are abandoned before a customer completes a sale. What these means is that among every three customers who add merchandise to their carts, only one ends up completing the transaction. Does this mean that you are missing out on two thirds of your potential customers? Yes. But there is a way of significantly decreasing this number – the good old email.

Well, you might never be able to convince all your potential customers to buy items from their abandoned carts. But you sure can persuade a lot of them, and it adds up to be a big number. Ignoring it means that you are ignoring a significant number of your customer base. Here’s the thing – many abandoned carts may be due to valid reasons. The customer might realize that they don’t actually want the product, or maybe that they cannot pay for it at the moment.

But in many cases, the customer is on the fence. And with the right amount of persuasion, they will end up buying your product. The most direct way to do this is email. But with emails come age-old problems like spam and click through rates.

Here are a few tips that would help you craft the most persuasive abandoned cart emails and close the sale.

Tips for Better Abandoned Cart Emails

  • Personalize

The abandoned cart email has two main functions. The first is notification – you need to notify your customer that their cart was loaded and ready to be processed. The second is to hook the customer into actually going ahead with the transaction. This is a subtle art, and your email must reflect your deftness. You need to make your email sound personal, rather than a long drawn sales pitch. Use the shopper’s first name, and maybe a little line about the specific ways in which the products in their cart could help them. Since the purpose of this email is notification and persuasion, make it crisp and easy on the eyes.

  • Make it Fun

Get a designer to craft a fun email for your abandoned carts. Design something that attracts attention. The viewer’s inbox would be filled with corporate emails. What makes your mail stand out? It could be funny, good looking and cheerful. Finally it all comes down to the design and the copy.

  • The Carrot and the Stick

Of course, some people would need more incentive. Maybe a small offer that would push them over the edge? This is the carrot. Now for the stick. Add a sense of urgency to your mail. Sometimes the factor that pushes people to buy things is the fact that it might get sold out. Warn your customers that the more they delay, the lesser their chances are of owning that product.

  • Timing is Key

How many times would you send an abandoned cart email to your customers? Well, ideally the first mail should reach them within 24 hours of abandonment. But just a single mail is generally not enough. Customers tend to procrastinate, and they might need to be reminded of their abandoned cart again. The time intervals between subsequent emails would depend upon a few factors. It does not make sense to send a barrage of emails to a customer and fluster them out of a sale. The frequency of mails should depend upon the products in the cart. What category do they belong to? How expensive are they? The more expensive the product, the more time a customer would need to think over before buying it. Basically, it all comes down to the difference between a nudge and a push.

For any more advice on abandoned cart emails, get in touch with Browntape. We are India’s leading online retail solutions providers are we are always happy to help!